This week patches of native grass sprung up on the State Library’s steps as Linda Tegg’s Grasslands installation opened to the public. Standing in the concrete bustle of Swanston Street, it’s hard to imagine what the city looked like before settlement, but Grasslands gives us a peek at Melbourne’s original landscape, when the ground was covered in flowering native grasses. Linda has installed over 10,000 plants in front of the Library, including bulbine lilies, billy buttons, blue pincushions and chocolate lilies.

Grasslands is located in one of Melbourne’s busiest public spaces and invites public interaction. It’s an artwork you can get inside, touch and feel. The response from Melbournians has been great – people pause to take photos, kids touch the soft fronds, workers perch between plants and students chat beside blossoms. Linda says, ‘The recurrent response has been an expression of wonderment, followed by a comment about making it permanent. People have come up to say thank you.’

Grasslands will be on at the State Library for six weeks. Linda explains that over that period the installation will visibly change, ‘The grasses that are most dominant now will recede as other species extend and flower. Many of the flowers we see now will dry off, while others come into bloom.’ For the time being though, we can enjoy smelling the sweet chocolate lilies (the purple flowers – don’t miss a sniff) and the increasing number of birds and butterflies drawn to this island of green in the city.

Grasslands is on until 23 November 2014. Join us to hear more about the artwork and plants in a free panel discussion on Wednesday 15 October, 6–7pm in The Courtyard, State Library of Victoria.

Presented by the State Library of Victoria in association with Melbourne Festival, Grasslands was conceived during Linda’s 2012 Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship at the Library, where she researched the site’s original flora.

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